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02 Mar
0

Foster Children Would Have Opportunity to Get College Education Under Pair of Democrat Measures Approved by State House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: State Rep. Steve Kouplen
Capitol: (405) 557-7306

Foster Children Would Have Opportunity to Get College Education Under Pair of Democrat Measures Approved by State House

Rep. Steve Kouplen (D-24)

Rep. Steve Kouplen (D-24)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Companion measures that would provide foster children in Oklahoma with an opportunity to attend college passed the state House of Representatives by wide margins Monday.

Under House Bill 1672 by Rep. Steve Kouplen, children who are in the permanent custody of the state Department of Human Services would be automatically eligible for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) after those students complete the 10th grade or reach the age of 16.

In addition, House Bill 1848 by Minority Leader Scott Inman would designate the State Regents for Higher Education as the agency responsible for identifying and tracking those foster children for purposes of enrolling them in OHLAP, which is also known as “Oklahoma’s Promise.”

Rep. Scott Inman (D-94)

Rep. Scott Inman
(D-94)

To “ensure that these kids don’t fall through the cracks,” the responsibility for “shepherding” the foster children would be placed on the Regents because the DHS has a heavy caseload and high staff turnover, Inman, D-Del City, explained.

“We’d be penny wise and pound foolish if we don’t encourage these children and help them advance their education,” said Kouplen, D-Beggs. “These kids are still in the system; they have not been adopted out,” Inman emphasized.

HB 1672 passed the House, 87-6, and HB 1848 was endorsed, 91-4. Both measures now will be referred to the state Senate.

OHLAP provides awards equivalent to all or part of tuition expenses for students who complete the program’s requirements while in high school. The awards may be used at accredited Oklahoma public and private colleges and for certain courses offered at public career technology centers.

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http://www.okhouse.tv/radViewVideo.aspx?VideoID=683

MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile

02 Mar
3

Increase in Minimum Wage Rejected by House Republicans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: House Minority Leader Scott Inman
Capitol: (405) 557-7370

Contact: State Rep. Mike Shelton
Capitol: (405 557-7367

Increase in Minimum Wage Rejected by House Republicans

Shelton, Mike

Rep. Mike Shelton (D-97)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Only one House Republican joined House Democrats when a vote was taken Monday afternoon on a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma.

Rep. Mike Shelton lodged a motion to suspend the House Rules in order to file an untimely amendment to a House measure in order to raise the minimum wage over the next three years: from $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour.

“It is vital that we use every option available to us as a legislature to help the working people of Oklahoma,” said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, nearly half (47.8%) of working-aged Oklahomans who were impoverished in 2013 worked full- or part-time. In addition, 30.5% of the jobs in Oklahoma are considered low-wage. Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reported that 627,000 Oklahomans were living in poverty in 2013.

Proctor, Eric

Rep. Eric Proctor (D-77)

“No one should work a full-time job in the United States and live in poverty,” said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa. Several states – including Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Nevada and New York – have already raised their minimum wage, Proctor related.

In addition, the Cherokee Nation recently raised its minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, Proctor said.

Shelton’s motion was defeated on a 27-57 vote. The proposal was endorsed by 26 Democrats and one Republican, and all 57 votes in opposition were cast by Republicans. Three House Democrats were absent when the vote was taken.

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MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile

02 Mar
0

Oklahoma Democrats Address Muslim Day Attendees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 2, 2015

Oklahoma Democrats Address Muslim Day Attendees

Muslim_Day_Cropped[March 2, 2015, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK] On Friday, February 27, 2015, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman, Wallace Collins, and various elected Democrats addressed advocates and supporters in honor of the very first Muslim Day at the Capitol.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from numerous panelists, including several Democratic legislators, community leaders, and advocates for religious equality in Oklahoma. “It was an honor to be asked to address this group of individuals and equip them with resources to become more involved in the democratic process of our great state,” said Collins.

Panelist Senator John Sparks, Democrat from district 16 in Norman, impressed upon attendees that “there is no substitute for personal relationships” and encouraged everyone, regardless of political, religious, or organizational affiliation to develop and continually cultivate relationships with their elected officials.

Collins echoed that sentiment by saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease and if you’re not getting any grease, then you’re not squeaking loud enough.” He encouraged attendees to get involved at the local level during upcoming precinct meetings and how to move through to become a delegate at the Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention in May. “You’ve got time, you’ve got talent, you’ve got treasure, and some people have all three,” Collins said emphasizing that everyone has something to offer.

Representative George Young, Sr., of Oklahoma City’s House District 99 said, “How could we have a United States of America if we did not have all of the various, distinct, and diverse kinds of backgrounds that come together that make us who we are? Civic engagement is who we are.” Young went on to say, “It is your obligation to come [to the Capitol].”

Additional information about becoming more active in your local political processes, getting registered to vote, dates and locations for local or statewide Democratic events, or becoming a delegate to the Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention please visit www.okdemocrats.org or call (405) 497-3366.

26 Feb
0

A Smoke and Mirrors Strategy From Oklahoma Republican Leaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 26, 2015

A Smoke and Mirrors Strategy From Oklahoma Republican Leaders

[February 26, 2015 – OKLAHOMA CITY, OK] Oklahomans demand action be taken on key issues while Governor Fallin and the Republican-led legislature continue to show a lack of leadership and refusal to look down the road to what is coming.

“Governor Fallin continues to talk about an increase in funding for public education but that seems to be just more smoke and mirrors from her administration as the legislature seems unified that that is almost certainly not possible this year or next,” says Wallace Collins, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

In 2012, Fallin touted the “success we have enjoyed [by] enacting pro-growth policies like those championed by ALEC” would be able to increase state revenues all while eliminating the state income tax and providing tax breaks to large campaign donors. Despite warnings from State Treasurer Ken Miller, she failed to demand fiscal responsibility from the 54th Oklahoma Legislature and now with the bottom out of the oil market, the estimated deficit hole more than doubled from $297 million to a now certified $611 million shortfall.

Seemingly undeterred by the current financial crisis facing Oklahoma, Governor Fallin refuses to rescind or even scale back these goals of eliminating the state income tax or tax cuts that helped only the wealthy in Oklahoma. Instead, she wants state agencies – particularly those that serve Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens – to prepare for additional cuts in funding. Again, an increase in funding for public education becomes more and more like a dream rather than reality.

Oklahoma currently leads the nation in the largest cuts to public education at a whopping 24% since before Bush’s Great Recession, no pay teacher pay raises since 2008, and a teacher shortage of epic proportions.

Sadly, Oklahoma also leads the nation in the number of murders in prison, a sign that no one is safe in our prisons, not even prison guards. Our state prisons are facing dangerous conditions that, like public education, don’t see any hope for relief in the near future. Prison guards are overworked, forced to work 16-hour shifts, and barely make more than $12 per hour. Prisons are understaffed by as much as 40% and we refuse to increase pay and benefits in order to attract new employees or even retain existing ones.

Collins emphasizes that, “The Republican leadership at our State Capitol has allowed the legislature to distract us with issues that should never have received widespread attention in the first place. Instead of dealing with real problems and answering the cries of working Oklahomans, we are fighting over AP History classes and conversion therapy. Governor Fallin’s answer to the myriad of problems we face? More smoke and mirrors! Maybe no one will notice our crumbling state.”

About the Oklahoma Democratic Party

The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent the working people of Oklahoma and the best way to do that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.

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25 Feb
1

Oklahoma Democratic Party Adds Director of Communications to Staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 25, 2015

Oklahoma Democratic Party Adds Director of Communications to Staff

[OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, February 25, 2015] – This week the Oklahoma Democratic Party announced that Sarah Baker has joined the staff as Director of Communications.

IMG_3286_SmallBaker joins two other staff members, David Scott, Interim Executive Director, and Kimberley Bishop, Finance Coordinator.

Baker formally opened her own marketing and public relations business in 2010, has served as Vice President of Communications for Oklahoma PTA, and most recently ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives District #43 in Yukon. Baker has years of experience in all aspects of media communications including print, television and radio, direct marketing, social media, and web-based media communications. She has also been an advocate for everyday Oklahomans, worked actively with the Oklahoma legislature for the past 3 years on pro-public education issues and legislative action, and was involved with the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Character Development Education Task Force.

David Scott said, “I am excited to bring Sarah on and utilize her skills to grow awareness about the Oklahoma Democratic Party. We look forward to the opportunity to improve communication with Democrats across the state and highlight the exceptional efforts of Democrats at the local level and at the Capitol.”

As Communications Director, Baker will not only work directly with the media and focus on communications efforts with local Democratic leaders but will also monitor and report on legislative activity at the Capitol.

The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent working people in Oklahoma and the best way to accomplish that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.

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